A California appellate court overturned a lower court decision on Friday, ruling that charter cities must comply with the state’s sanctuary laws.
The city of Huntington Beach argued that because they are a charter city they are entitled to autonomy in regulating and enforcing laws deemed to be “municipal affairs” without state intrusion in accordance with the California Constitution, Article XI, Section 5.
The city argued the California Values Act (CVA) “is ‘an impermissible, un-Constitutional overreach, is void, and should be invalidated’ because it intrudes upon the City’s control of its police force.” Section 7284.6 of the CVA was specifically targeted in the suit because it imposes specific limits on state and local law enforcement when aiding federal law enforcement in the execution of federal immigration enforcement.
The California Supreme Court previously set forth a “four-step ‘analytical framework’ to determine whether a state law unconstitutionally infringes” on a charter city’s authority. The appellate court used this framework and found that there was a conflict between the CVA and the city’s authority. However, because the legislature laid out a series of justifications for the enactment of the CVA which illustrated the “statewide concern” addressed by the law, the court held the CVA must be followed by charter cities.
This is not the first time the California law has faced a legal battle. In 2018 the Trump administration filed suit against California, arguing the CVA hindered federal immigration enforcement officials from executing federal law. In 2019 the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the administration, holding that California’s law did not conflict with federal immigration law.